Though hard to imagine now, there was a time when Meghan Markle blogged about beauty. On her lifestyle site The Tig, Markle, in between posting about fashion and travel and food, wrote occasionally about skincare, and, in an October 2016 post, stressed the importance of facials. The post titled “Favorite Facialists Around the World” mentioned four women who she trusted with her skin. BAZAAR.com spoke exclusively to the two U.S. facialists Meghan namechecked, Kate Somerville in Los Angeles and Joanna Vargas in New York City, to find out how we can glow like the Duchess, even while at home.
West Coast Glow: Kate Somerville
“This spot is a hometown classic for good reason, with aestheticians who are as skilled as they are friendly,” Markle wrote of Kate Somerville Skin Health Experts in Los Angeles (Markle now lives in Santa Barbara). “Scrubs and red-light treatments are de rigeur, and the beautifully designed space transports you on a little spa vacation for the day.” We spoke exclusively to Somerville herself to find out how to take the treatment room home with you thanks to the facialist’s “five daily do’s.”
Step 1: Cleanse
“This is your first step, always,” says Somerville, who also has a spa in NYC. “If you’re oily or congested, I like doing a double cleanse. If you’re super dry like me, just do a single cleanse.” As with every one of the “five daily do’s,” make sure to know your skin type so you can customize products to your specific needs.
Step 2: Exfoliate
On The Tig, Meghan specifically calls out Somerville’s exfoliating product, cleverly named ExfoliKate, which the Duchess of Sussex wrote “will do the trick for that homegrown glow.” Somerville says she applies the exfoliant and “lets it sit for about two minutes, then I pat my skin with a little bit of cold water.” Somerville also offers an ExfoliKate mask, which “dissolves dead layers of skin, hydrates, and really gets rid of a lot of congestion in the nose or skin area,” she says. (You only need to exfoliate a couple of times a week; if you’re dry–as so many of us are in winter–limit it to once a week.)
Step 3: Hydrate
“We want to push hyaluronic acid deep into the skin, plump fine lines and wrinkles, and get rid of dehydration,” Somerville adds. Her brand’s DermalQuench serums are a great choice for reducing fine lines and plumping skin. The nighttime version contains retinol delivered with hyaluronic acid to lessen irritation. “Hydration is really key,” says Somerville, “and probably one of the most important steps as far as really making changes in the skin.”
Step 4: Moisturize
Don’t confuse hydration with moisture. “Hydration is really the water level in the cell, where the moisturization is going to be more of your lipids and ceramides,” she says. Any good skincare routine will address both: a lightweight serum for adding moisture, then an occlusive cream or oil to lock-in hydration.
Step 5: SPF
Sunscreen is like an insurance policy for all the products you just applied. Even if you’re not leaving your house much these days, you still need a sunscreen. “Blue light from technology is actually really damaging to skin,” she says. Stay tuned this spring for a new product launch from Somerville’s line, an “indoor sunscreen” that protects against your phone’s blue light.
While all five steps are important, “the game changers are exfoliation, which can change skin the minute you do it; deep hydration, which can change the skin in literally seconds; and having the right moisturizer for you to lock in and protect the barrier,” she says.
East Coast Glow: Joanna Vargas
When in New York City, you could find Markle at the Joanna Vargas Salon, which is “a New York institution for A-list celebs and anyone seeking that skin that glows from within,” she wrote. “Using only natural products and specializing in microcurrent treatments that send a pulse through the facial tissue, which exercises and lifts the muscle, this skincare oasis is the best in the Big Apple.” (Vargas also has a salon in Los Angeles.)
Ahead, the facialist and celebrity skin expert details just a few of her favorite ways to care for skin. (If you’re looking for even more, Vargas’s book Glow from Within was released last year.)
Glowing skin is about more than just products
Skin is a window into what’s happening internally in your body
“There’s so much that goes into having good skin,” says Vargas. “Skin is a window into what’s happening internally in your body. An aspect of good skin care is overall taking care of yourself.” Having a good diet matters, she says, as well as “mindful of things that make digestion more sluggish and cause more internal inflammation, which creates more breakouts.” Dairy is a trigger for some, as is alcohol, which can make “skin look tired and have a loss of elasticity.” Exercise matters too, and even if we can’t go to our favorite exercise studios right now, “taking a walk helps the lymphatic system function better,” she says. “The lymphatic system is responsible for carrying away waste and delivering nutrients to the skin.”
Behold the power of the sheet mask
“If you can’t make it to the salon, pick up some of the signature products like the JV Face Mask for an at-home pick me up,” Meghan wrote on The Tig. If you’re wanting to mimic a professional service at home, “leave the mask on for a good 20 minutes,” advises Vargas. “Answer some emails, or sometimes people even get in the bathtub with a mask on. Whatever works for you. Make it a good self-care moment.” Once the mask comes off, “follow with a serum,” she says. “I obviously love sheet masks; I have so many in my line. It’s easy to use and you can think of a mask as a treatment to target what’s going on with your skin.”
Bring retinol into your nighttime routine once or twice a week
“Retinol helps all skin types,” notes Vargas. “It tones, reduces breakouts, and stimulates collagen production in the skin. It’s one of those ingredients that works for everyone, no matter how often you use it.” If you’re a retinol beginner, Vargas suggests using it once a week to start out with to see what your skin does, then up it to twice a week. “Even if you only use it once a week, it’s still doing its job. It’s important to have in your arsenal,” she says.
Have a skin plan for travel
“Pre-COVID, I was always the person on the airplane with a sheet mask, and I always travel on a flight with face oil,” says Vargas. “The airplane is so drying.” If you do have to travel, it’s important to focus on your post-flight skin routine. “The second you get off the flight and get to where you’re going, wash your face and reset your skin again using a face oil,” she says. “It calms down inflammation in the skin.”
Then Vargas suggests applying a sheet mask with epidermal growth factor, specifically the Twilight Mask in her line, which is “so effective in healing and resetting skin.” When you travel, “bring three or four different types of sheet masks and diagnose yourself as you go along on your trip,” she says. Experiencing puffiness in your face after a day of travel? “When I get to my destination, yoga helps depuff me,” says Vargas. “I do some stretching and yoga poses to make sure my body is moving again. It helps the lymphatic system feel like it has healed itself after a flight.”
Give yourself grace in the mirror
“Being an esthetician for so long, so many of my clients stare at themselves in the mirror at night and pick apart all of their flaws,” she notes. “A good practice is, while you’re washing your face at night, think of something you like about yourself or something you did well that day. It sounds unimportant and not that meaningful, but it makes a huge difference in the overall way you treat yourself. We are all so beautiful in our own way; I wish we could embrace that more.”
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